The criminal gang of family and friends who made millions

A drugs gang produced millions of counterfeit Xanax from their garden sheds.
-Credit: (Image: WMP)

These are the faces of a duo suspected to be behind a dark web gang who made millions selling fake drugs made in garden sheds and garages.

Ten people, including suspected ringleaders Brian Pitts, 29, and Katie Harlow, 26, have been convicted of drugs and money laundering offences after a five-year international investigation. The gang, made up of extended family and friends, amassed £4 million producing millions of counterfeit Xanax pills which they sold globally.

An investigation began when pharmaceutical giant Pfizer ran tests on the tablets which confirmed they were fake and dangerously dosed, BirminghamLive reports.

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West Midlands Police's Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCU) used the dark web to track sales and deliveries to and from addresses in the Black Country - as well as tracing the proceeds of the sales through the transfer and conversion of Bitcoin crypto currency.

Eight members of the group, including Brian Pitts, 29, and Katie Harlow, 26, had previously admitted a range of charges, with two more members convicted on Wednesday, June 19.

The gang were brought to justice after a five-year international investigation.
The gang were brought to justice after a five-year international investigation. -Credit:WMP

Brian Pitts, of Beebee Road, Wednesbury, previously pleaded guilty to a range of drugs offences and money laundering charges. The ROCU believe he organised the marketing and online sales from a luxury villa in Thailand, supported by his partner Harlow.

Jordan Pitts, 25 of Hickman Road, Tipton, and Bladon Roper, 24, of Stourbridge Road, Brierley Hill, stood trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court, where they were found guilty of assisting in the commission of an offence.

In 2019, investigators discovered a fake Xanax factory at an address on Windsor Road in Tipton. The following month, a warrant in Wolverhampton revealed a tablet press machine, metal pill casts and stamps along with powder and a handwritten recipe list.

West Midlands Police said the gang had equipment capable of producing around 10,000 tablets per hour. Records showed shipments of the fake tablets were made across the globe, including mainland Europe and America.

Investigating officer, Det Insp Dave Hollies, said: "The scale of production of these counterfeit tablets ran in the millions. We found evidence the group had purchased over two tonnes of bulking agent which made up over 90 per cent of the tablets.

"The weight of active ingredients purchased was up 220kg. And the profit in Bitcoin also ran into millions."

Eight defendants pleaded guilty at earlier hearings and the trial of Jordan Pitts and Roper concluded yesterday, Wednesday, June 20. All ten members of the gang will be sentenced at a later date.